Models drink it. Yogis drink it. Even Goop-y Gwyneth drinks it. And it's time you started sipping it too. Because matcha isn't just a #cleanliving fad: it's a bona fide health food that started out as the daily caffeine hit for 12th-century Japanese monks and, hundreds of years later, has found new status as the It-drink of the Western world. Bonus: it tastes a helluva lot better (and looks less toxic) than its sister nutri-tea kombucha. But we digress.
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Isn't matcha just another type of green tea, we hear you ask? Yes and no - if we were talking perfume, matcha would be the EDP; green tea, EDT. "When you're drinking green tea, you're drinking an infusion of the leaves," says Corinne Smith, co-owner of organic tea bar The Rabbit Hole. "With matcha, it's more than just an infusion, you're drinking the entire leaf, ground into a powder." So all those metabolism-boosting, antioxidant-delivering benefits you know you get from drinking green tea? Max those by about 3-10 (the studies differ, but all agree: when it comes to its antioxidant count, matcha is the master). And we're not just talking any old antioxidants: matcha is a potent source of catechins, including EGCg (thought to help ward off cancer), along with chlorophyll, vitamin C, zinc, selenium and magnesium. Did someone put the kettle on?
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"There's no doubting the array of health benefits from drinking matcha but we also love the ceremonial and meditative aspect to the preparation of this style of tea," says Smith. "It forces us to take a minute to slow down and be present." That's because matcha must be prepared using a bamboo whisk to mix it with hot (not boiling) water for a smooth, silky consistency. That's the traditional method, at least - matcha is increasingly found mixed into frothy milk, latte-style, at cafes (all the better to Instagram, you see) as well as into an array of pastel-hued confections. "It can be used as an ingredient to bake almost anything, think whoopee pies, marshmallows, eclairs and even savoury creations," says Smith. "We even mix it with salt for seasoning."
Keen to get your green on? Just like decent coffee, not all matcha is created equal - aim for organic and be aware that there are different grades - keep the premium for drinking and the lesser stuff for baking, if you're that way inclined. Above all: "Freshness is key. The smell of the tea should be sweet and vegetal (steer clear of anything that smells like hay!) and the colour should be a bright green," Smith says. Over to you.